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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 10 - Chapter 2
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The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 10 - Chapter 2 Post by :Carmen Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :3379

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The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 10 - Chapter 2

PART X CHAPTER II

When I got back, just in time for dinner, Roland had not returned, nor did he return till late in the evening. All our eyes were directed towards him, as we rose with one accord to give him welcome; but his face was like a mask,--it was locked and rigid and unreadable.

Shutting the door carefully after him, he came to the hearth, stood on it, upright and calm, for a few moments, and then asked,--

"Has Blanche gone to bed?"

"Yes," said my mother, "but not to sleep, I am sure; she made me promise to tell her when you came back."

Roland's brow relaxed.

"To-morrow, sister," said he, slowly, "will you see that she has the proper mourning made for her? My son is dead."

"Dead!" we cried with one voice, and surrounded him with one impulse.

"Dead! impossible,--you could not say it so calmly. Dead,--how do you know? You may be deceived. Who told you? why do you think so?"

"I have seen his remains," said my uncle, with the same gloomy calm. "We will all mourn for him. Pisistratus, you are heir to my name now, as to your father's. Good-night; excuse me, all--all you dear and kind ones; I am worn out." Roland lighted his candle and went away, leaving us thunderstruck; but he came back again, looked round, took up his book, open in the favorite passage, nodded again, and again vanished. We looked at each other as if we had seen a ghost. Then my father rose and went out of the room, and remained in Roland's till the night was well-nigh gone! We sat up, my mother and I, till he returned. His benign face looked profoundly sad.

"How is it, sir? Can you tell us more?" My father shook his head.

"Roland prays that you may preserve the same forbearance you have shown hitherto, and never mention his son's name to him. Peace be to the living, as to the dead! Kitty, this changes our plans; we must all go to Cumberland,--we cannot leave Roland thus!"

"Poor, poor Roland!" said my mother, through her tears. "And to think that father and son were not reconciled! But Roland forgives him now,--oh, yes, now!"

"It is not Roland we can censure," said my father, almost fiercely; "it is--But enough; we must hurry out of town as soon as we can: Roland will recover in the native air of his old ruins."

We went up to bed mournfully. "And so," thought I, "ends one grand object of my life! I had hoped to have brought those two together. But, alas, what peacemaker like the grave!"

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PART X CHAPTER IIIMy uncle did not leave his room for three days; but he was much closeted with a lawyer, and my father dropped some words which seemed to imply that the deceased had incurred debts, and that the poor Captain was making some charge on his small property. As Roland had said that he had seen the remains of his son, I took it at first for granted that we should attend a funeral; but no word of this was said. On the fourth day Roland, in deep mourning, entered a hackney-coach with the lawyer, and was absent about
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PART X CHAPTER IMy uncle's conjecture as to the parentage of Francis Vivian seemed to me a positive discovery. Nothing more likely than that this wilful boy had formed some headstrong attachment which no father would sanction, and so, thwarted and irritated, thrown himself on the world. Such an explanation was the more agreeable to me as it cleared up much that had appeared discreditable in the mystery that surrounded Vivian. I could never bear to think that he had done anything mean and criminal, however I might believe he had been rash and faulty. It was natural that the unfriended
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